An Italian Treasure Box
Noam Eitan | Brooklyn, NY United States | 11/07/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The common denominator of these three productions is the superior widescreen picture quality, and with the exception of one bad apple the superior 5.1 surround sound quality. The first to appear was the Nabucco. There seems to be a consensus among the reviewers that the sound quality is unacceptable. My review was more favorable, but I must admit that on repeat viewing the aggressiveness of the score is exacerbated by the crude recording.The Tannhäuser followed with improved audio. The stereo is completely bi-dimensional (no sense of depth) with voices projected so much forward that you can hear the prompter. The 5.1 surround is more natural with some balance problems. The production was internationally acclaimed (with some controversy). Herzog's approach is minimalistic in the choice of sets, but with many bold and beautiful ideas, not always executed with precision in Naples. Several reviewers trashed the tenor. I don't think that was fair or warranted, particularly when compared to the hysterical reviews a singer like David Hobson received for his Rodolfo in the Australian Opera on Amazon.com. You cannot judge a live performance by the standards of studio recordings, particularly in demanding Wagnerian roles. The last to appear was Der Rosenkavalier. I unfairly maligned this production in my separate review. On repeat viewing I am completely captivated by its lyricism. It may not be as polished dramatically as the Covent Garden set with Solti and Te Kanawa, but then few opera houses can rise to the art of theatre making of the the Covent Garden productions (many in the profession feel that the Covent Garden is the best opera house in the world: I believe Domingo was quoted as making a statement to that effect). From what I read on the internet the first reaction of some viewers to this DVD was sometimes disappointment. Becoming receptive to the charms of this production requires some patience and effort (and sensitivity). You have to live with this production for some time to appreciate its wonders. It is a of paramount importance in this rich score that the clear recording enables you to identify individual orchestra instruments (the "sound power" of the score includes five horns, two harps, lots of percussion and instruments like counter-bassoon, bass clarinet, and so on). Only on repeat viewing did I notice how Pizzi uses frequent changes in lighting to highlight certain mood changes that are very frequent. When the stage is fully lighted it is practically flooded with a very bright light. At 1:43:14 ("what you are") when the score indicates the evolving tender feelings between Sophie and Octavian, the stage is gradually bathed in a bewitched azure light, and again in 3:03:55 ("Marie-Therese"). These are ecstatic moments when you have no choice but to melt away and succumb to the surging wave of longing, tenderness and sadness. One word describes this production, including the conductor's approach: GRACEFUL. (A charming little accident happenned in the final curtain call when Ms. Rançatore who was weeping at the wings missed her cue to come out and Ms. Whitehouse, who should have had a (reverse) precedence in the applause came out before her [3:18:46]). This is a Rosenkavalier with unique Italian accents in its esthetic values. The German diction of all the singers is absolutely impeccable. The box doesn't include the Roberto Devereux from Naples, even though it may be the best in the series. The reason may be that this is a "rare" opera, but it is so well done that I feel it is accessible to a wider audience than Der Rosenkavalier, which isn't as popular here as it is in German-speaking countries.For detailed reviews please refer to the individual opera pages."
Emin Alp Yentur | Izmir, Turkey | 10/23/2003
(1 out of 5 stars)
"This was the first opera DVD that I bought without any information, synopsis of the story (Libretto of the opera), no date of production, no comprehensive list of the cast or any material relating to the cast etc..."